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Cash for Clunkers Omits Ethanol Option & Downside of Recycling

The cash for clunkers program is already proving too good to be true. The $1 billion in funds allocated for the program is almost gone after less than a week, and now congress is scrambling to get an additional $2 billion to extend the program.
With sales up at Ford and at dealerships, the program can be viewed as an unabashed success for the auto industry. And the environment is also winning, as the vehicles being purchased are estimated to be 69 percent more fuel efficient than the vehicles being dumped, according to the website
On average consumers will save $750 per year on gasoline, which will offset a few of the car payments for their new vehicles. About 70 percent of the cars being traded in were from U.S. car companies, and almost three-quarters of the vehicles were SUVs, vans, or pickups.
But the trade-in program has 2 flaws that should prompt legislators from a knee-jerk reaction to extend the program. First, while the vehicles will be recycled, it still wastes much of the value of functional vehicles. It will take a lot of energy to put the metal and other parts back into use, and most of the components will go for naught.
Many of the newer models being traded in could have been converted to run on natural gas or ethanol, which could reduce emissions to an even greater degree than a few MPG extra without wasting the vehicles. Shouldn’t any program aimed at boosting the environment and economy also consider conversion companies or component suppliers, who are also hurting these days?
Also, hybrid vehicles can be converted to plug-ins for not much more than the $4,500 that some folks are getting for dumping a clunker. PHEV conversions would save emissions and reduce foreign oil dependence to a much greater degree than upgrading someone’s clunker to a 25 mpg car.
Taking a breath before resuming funding to consider all of the options would make sense, but it’s not likely to happen.
This article originally appeared on Matter Network.

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Derek lives in southwestern New Mexico and digs bicycles, simple living, fungi, organic gardening, sustainable lifestyle design, bouldering, and permaculture. He loves fresh roasted chiles, peanut butter on everything, and buckets of coffee. Catch up with Derek on Twitter, Google+, or at his natural parenting site, Natural Papa!


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